Manitoulin Health Centre appoints Paula Fields as new president and CEO

MANITOULIN – The Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC) board of directors has appointed Paula Fields as its president and chief executive officer (CEO).

Dennis McGregor, chair of the MHC board of directors told The Expositor after a meeting Thursday evening, “on behalf of the board of directors of MHC we are pleased to announce the appointment of Paula Fields as the new CEO and president of MHC.”

“I am really excited for this opportunity,” stated Ms. Fields. She explained, “my first opportunity to work with MHC was as a student nurse, 30 years ago. Then after I graduated, I was offered the job of general duty nurse, a position I filled for three-and-a-half years.”

Several qualified candidates submitted resumes for the position of CEO, including Ms. Fields who had been the interim co-CEO. “The health care industry has faced considerable challenges over the last couple of years given the staffing shortage, extra demands on staff, ever changing policies and crises facing our communities, both from COVID and the subsequent mental health issues,” an MHC release said. “As interim co-CEO, Ms. Fields helped guide the frontline through some very difficult times. She has worked tirelessly in continuing the development of strong working relationships with our community partners for the health, safety and wellness for the communities across Manitoulin.”

Although she is not a Haweater, “as I was not born on Manitoulin, I consider myself an Islander as my roots are well established on Manitoulin, where I have lived most of my life,” Ms. Fields told The Expositor.

“Upon completion of my bachelor of science degree in nursing at Laurentian University in 1993, I accepted my first nursing position as general duty nurse at MHC,” continued Ms. Fields. “For personal reasons, I transitioned to community to pursue a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with Indigenous health care providers in the development of culturally appropriate homecare services for five of our Indigenous communities now known as Mnaamodzawin Health Services.” 

“Returning to MHC 17 years ago as the occupational health and infection control nurse, I quickly transitioned to nursing management at both sites, then to the director of clinical innovation and partnerships while completing a graduate degree (masters of health management from McMaster University), then to chief nursing officer, vice-president of clinical services and, most recently, to the co-CEO position. As vice-president of clinical services, I have clinically led MHC in our pandemic efforts over the past two years,” said Ms. Fields.

Ms. Fields continues her work with the Maamwewziwining committee, an engagement project to identify ways of enhancing cultural safety and improving the patient experience in keeping with our strategic goal of “putting patients first as we lead and collaborate with our partners, more specifically, the strategic direction of ‘respecting First Nations culture within our care practices’.” 

The MHC board is thrilled to have Ms. Fields at the helm. On behalf of the board, chair Dennis  McGregor said, “The board of directors of MHC is extremely pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Paula Fields to the position of CEO and president. Ms. Fields brings a vast level of experience as a health care professional who has worked at MHC for the majority of her career and has forged excellent relationships with our staff, external partners, government agencies, First Nations and associated organizations. The board believes the appointment will allow for a smooth transition and we look forward to working with Ms. Fields to continue to meet the MHC goals and mission. The board would also like to express its sincere gratitude to both Paula and Tim Vine, vice president corporate support services and chief financial officer for their guidance and leadership while acting as co-CEOs over the past months, especially through these trying pandemic times.” 

Mr. McGregor also said, “on behalf of the board, I would like to acknowledge all the efforts of Samantha Smockum, director of human resources, the hiring committee, and the executive recruitment firm Boyden and their team for all their efforts with the recruiting process. I know we got the right person.”

“I am very pleased with the board’s choice in CEO,” said Mr. Vine. “From the start of the recruitment process, I have endorsed Paula for the position. We have a great working relationship, and with long service to MHC and strong ties to the Island, I know Paula will be a wonderful advocate for the hospital and the community.” 

Ms. Fields had been interim co-CEO of the MHC and vice-president of clinical services and chief nursing officer. She had been co-CEO with Tim Vine, who will remain as vice-president of corporate support services and chief financial officer of MHC.